Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

Dear Mr Thornhill,

If you remember, we exchanged correspondence late last year (started about your article suggesting that Bush was really French), and that ultimately led to an article of mine on European energy policy being published in the FT Op-Ed pages. So I hope that you will take this new letter in such a context - whereby I'm quite grateful for your willingess to listen to your readers and to give me in particular a chance to speak up in your columns.

I am writing this time because I have a lot of comments to make to your article published today about France ("Why France may find its social model exacts too high a price"). In addition to the request (which I copied you in) to the FT editors for a correction of a factual error in the graph accompanying your article, I'd like to point you towards a fairly detailed commentary of your article on my website, the European Tribune (http://www.eurotrib.com/comments/2007/4/15/182027/868), and flag two items:

  1. Your statement that "France is the only eurozone country that has not reduced the financial weight of the state over the past 10 years", is quite misleading, when the two most significant examples of countries with significant increases in public spending are the USA and the UK (as demonstrated in the attached graph, from your 19 September 2006 edition) - the two economies usually shown as an example for France and, not coincidentally maybe, those with higher than average growth over that period.

  2. With respect to the supposed relative decline of French GDP per capita, it should be pointed out (and the FT, to its credit, regularly writes about it) that GDP growth in the US and the UK has been accompanied by increasing inequality and stagnant income for the middle classes:

[insert top 0.1% graph]

If you strip out the top 0.1%, relative GDP per capita numbers are extremely stable over the last 25 years for France, the UK and the US. Other than for a tiny elite, economic performance for most people is thus quite similar in France as in the US or UK - except maybe that there are fewer poor people in France, a trade off that should not be brushed off so easily.

The fact that the French economic model is systematically described as a failure, when it simply focuses more - and more effectively - on social cohesion can be seen as an attempt to denigrate a country which shows that a different way of doing things is possible.

I hope that voices carrying that more optimistic view of France can be heard more frequently in the FT, and I'd certainly be willing to volunteer to the task!

Sincerely Yours, etc...

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Apr 16th, 2007 at 09:47:25 AM EST
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